We’ve been holed up at home with a flu for weeks now.  It’s a yucky and tricky sort of thing that gives the impression of fading, only to come back again in full force with new symptoms. I think, for me anyway, periods of illness have got to be the hardest part of raising a large family.

Though I don’t actually think of our family as large.  It doesn’t feel large from the inside, since there is not a single component that we could very well do without.  But the last time I tried to argue this point Steve put me on the spot by asking that I list families with more children.  This I gladly began by naming a few families that I’m acquainted with through the wonders of modern technology.  At which point he stipulated that I must know them in real life; decidedly harder.  And the answer is two.  I personally know of two contemporary families with more children than us.  Though going back a generation or more changes things radically; my mother is one of seven, his father is one of thirteen.  So it’s all a matter of perspective!

Still with seven people in one house, illness takes a tiresomely long time to work it’s way through.

The reasonable sorts of things that Steve does when I’m completely incapacitated with the flu: keep an eye on the kids, try to keep up with the dishes, maybe wash and put away a load or two of laundry…  The highly unreasonable sort of things that I do when Steve is entirely laid up with the flu: attempt to completely remodel the pantry, entirely covering every flat surface in the main living area with it’s contents, making it nearly impossible to cook or find a place to eat, or well, move, allow the toddler to spread every single canning jar lid and ring I own out on the floor to keep her busy and therefore out of my way…you know, that kind of thing.

For the record, not my fault.  And not my plan.  When I was too sick to move someone dropped something heavy on a bag of yams.  The yams were split open and then buried and well you can imagine the state they were in when I discovered them.  It was a symptom of a greater, long-standing pantry problem.  I will not bore you with the details, but let’s just say the situation snowballed and rapidly morphed from a cleaning project into a construction project.  So, add a number of tools to the mess you are picturing in your head right now.  And me using them between sneezes while taking frequent breaks so as not to pass out.  And Steve so sick that for like two days I’m not even sure he knew there was full out deconstruction happening right under his nose.

Galen put on a light show for those of us who were upright on New Year’s Eve, using his new Snap Circuits Light Effects kit (highly recommended for scientifically minded people in middle childhood).  In the mess on New Year’s day I cooked a fancy, but easy dinner.  This served with kale and applesauce and sparkling cider.  And we all found a corner somewhere to eat it, together more in spirit than physically.  I pulled Seraphina up our road in her little red sled; the first time we’d felt well enough to stray a bit from home.  Together the two of us greeted the moonrise on the first day of the year.

‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops – at all - “~Emily Dickinson

  2015 was a very hard year for us and 2016 harder still. So much more so than I’ve ever let on here, or I think could even put into words.  Often in the last couple years I’ve wondered if that poem didn’t go the wrong way round.  Instead of an uplifting force it’s seemed to me that she should have implied that hope is a flighty thing, difficult to grasp and often painful to try to hold.  But I have hope for this new year, despite it’s rather inauspicious beginning.  I have no resolutions, but certain thoughts and ideas that I wish to take with me into the new year.

Welcome 2017.  I’m cautiously optimistic about what you might bring.








6 thoughts on “feathers

  1. Corina Sahlin

    Ack! We had similar illness sweep through the house. My oldest has had a cough for a month. I spent the New Year ungracefully draped over the toilet bowl, barfing. You get the idea.
    I feel for you, I really do. Sickness that sweeps through a biggish family is hell.
    Happy (hopefully) new year 2017!

  2. Melody Post author

    I’m sorry you’ve been ill as well! It seems like everyone has this year. We had the stomach involvement too. Not pretty. And pretty much ever other symptom under the sun. And the darn thing just won’t quit. I keep thinking that today is the day that we will all wake up feeling well and then…not so much. But I know everyone is struggling with the same thing. I guess it’s just something that we’re all going to have to deal with!

  3. Mamaashgrove

    Dear Melody, I am so sorry to hear you’ve all been sick… and i totally agree with illness- large families being such a challenge. We’ve been sick off and on the past month. Birdie currently is fevered and sick and I’ll admit I’m quite anxious, and very done with it. And (hee hee) I often use you as an example of someone else I know who has 5 children! I think cyber friends and folk should count.
    I always thoroughly enjoy your wonderful writing, your way of putting life’s moments- from the beautiful, to the wacky, to the very hard- in just the perfect words.
    Much love to you and your beautiful family. And may 2017 bring you so much joy, peace, and ease. You deserve it. Hugs, Mel

  4. Megan

    I hope you all turn the corner to feeling better soon, very soon! My best friend has 5 kids, ages 16 – 3. She is still hoping for number 6 even though she will be turning 50 this month!

  5. Jasmine

    I’m sorry you’ve all been sick. I also spent the start of the new yea feeling well. The Yarn Harlot says she always tries to “start as you mean to go on” so she has her house cleaned and bills paid etc. for January 1 which is a lovely idea and one I’ve thought I might try to copy. But this year I definitely do NOT want to go on as I started, lying on the bathroom floor. Thankfully though my family didn’t catch whatever I had. I hope your family kicks its illnesses very soon!

    And I hope 2017 is better for you that the last couple. When 2015 ended I was optimistic because it had been hard and I thought surely 2016 must be better. So wrong. I hear you that hope is not a sure thing and it is definitely difficult to find, let alone hold onto. I’m not hoping for much this year. With lowered expectations come fewer disappointments.

    Although we may not have much hope, let us have stamina to just keep going. And little by little we may find our way to health and hope. Hugs to you, mama. Just keep going. You’re doing great.


    P.s Thanks for sharing your life here. It’s beautiful and educational and encouraging to see your heart and family here in your online space.

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